Persistence to anti-cancer treatments in the stationary to proliferating transition

Sivan Pearl Mizrahi*, Orit Gefen, Itamar Simon, Nathalie Q. Balaban

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The heterogeneous responses of clonal cancer cells to treatment is understood to be caused by several factors, including stochasticity, cell-cycle dynamics, and different micro-environments. In a tumor, cancer cells may encounter fluctuating conditions and transit from a stationary culture to a proliferating state, for example this may occur following treatment. Here, we undertake a quantitative evaluation of the response of single cancerous lymphoblasts (L1210 cells) to various treatments administered during this transition. Additionally, we developed an experimental system, a “Mammalian Mother Machine,” that tracks the fate of thousands of mammalian cells over several generations under transient exposure to chemotherapeutic drugs. Using our developed system, we were able to follow the same cell under repeated treatments and continuously track many generations. We found that the dynamics of the transition between stationary and proliferative states are highly variable and affect the response to drug treatment. Using cell-cycle markers, we were able to isolate a subpopulation of persister cells with distinctly higher than average survival probability. The higher survival rate encountered with cell-cycle phase specific drugs was associated with a significantly longer time-till-division, and was reduced by a non cell-cycle specific drug. Our results suggest that the variability of transition times from the stationary to the proliferating state may be an obstacle hampering the effectiveness of drugs and should be taken into account when designing treatment regimens.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3442-3453
Number of pages12
JournalCell Cycle
Issue number24
StatePublished - 16 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis. © Sivan Pearl Mizrahi, Orit Gefen, Itamar Simon, and Nathalie Q. Balaban.


  • cell-cycle
  • chemotherapy
  • microfluidics
  • persistence
  • proliferating
  • quiescence
  • stationary


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